Slovenia overcome Latvia in epic EuroBasket quarter-final

Teenage prodigy Luka Doncic held his nerve from the foul line as Slovenia edged Latvia 103-97 in a classic Eurobasket quarter-final.

Slovenia will now meet Spain in the semi-finals with both sides putting their undefeated streaks on the line and the winner heading to Sunday’s final in Istanbul.

For Doncic, the 18-year-old NBA prospect certainly lived up to his billing as a potential first pick in 2018 as he poured in 27 points including four vital free foul shots in the final 20 seconds to seal the win, despite a desperate last attempt at Latvian resistance.

Goran Dragic was equally as impressive as well, posting 26 points for the Slovenians. Kristaps Porzingis led all scorers in vein for Latvia with 34 points.

Unlike the quarter-final beforehand, both Slovenia and Latvia found no troubles in putting the ball in the hoop early on. In fact, the defence was non-existent throughout the first ten minutes as Slovenia managed to take a 34-23 cushion heading into the second.

Goran Dragic ensured that he might end his international career with a medal. Photo: FIBA

Dragic was in sublime form early on, but Porzingis, unstoppable in the group phase came through to pull the Latvians back into the game. Dragic though was not to be denied, with Latvia pulling the deficit closer, the Slovenian guard, determined not to end his international venture at the quarter-final stage gave his side a 40-32 lead with 6:55 to go, which seemed to shift the momentum back their way.

Latvia though kept their comeback on track, and thanks to scores from Davis Bertans, they took the lead with just over a minute of the half left. A lay-up from Janis Timma extended the lead to 52-49 and even though the Slovenians hit back, they found themselves down 55-51 at the buzzer.

The break suited Slovenia as they raced to an 11-0 run, holding Latvia scoreless for the first four minutes of the third before a timeout from Latvia followed by a dunk from Porzingis softened the blow.

Slovenia though maintained their double-digit lead after three quarters and it was left to Doncic to keep the lead on their side for good, securing a first semi-final appearance since 2009.

Photo: FIBA